Nuclear proliferation is the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapon-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognised as ‘Nuclear Weapon States’ by the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Nuclear proliferation has been a cause of concern for the world community – both nuclear and non-nuclear nations. It is feared that the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology shall increase the possibility of a nuclear warfare. So far the world has not yet seen the use of nuclear weapons since the twin attacks on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US in the World War-II.

Efforts for limiting the spread of nuclear technology date back to 1960s when some serious efforts were made to limit nuclear proliferation. Let us have a look at various efforts.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Presented on July 1, 1968, in London, Moscow and Washington.
Came into force on March 5, 1970.
Signatories: 189 countries.
Non-signatories: India, Israel and Pakistan.
Withdrawn: North Korea in 2003.
NPT checks horizontal proliferation – spread of nuclear weapons technology to non-nuclear states.

Pillars of NPT
First Pillar: Non-Proliferation
To prevent nuclear proliferation among those countries which did not possess them before 1968.

Second Pillar: Disarmament
To limit nuclear armament among the nuclear weapon states.

Third Pillar: Peaceful use of nuclear energy
Use and transfer of nuclear technology and materials for production of energy under the aegis of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Structural flaws in NPT
Article IV permits non-nuclear states use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but it does not consider the possibility of a civilian nuclear programme turning into a military one.
Article VI persuades states for disarmament in good faith but, due to its ambiguous language, it does not bind them to conclude a disarmament treaty.
Article X permits states to quit/withdraw from the treaty on a three-month notice.

While the treaty remains alive on paper, it has become spiritually dead. World powers, especially the US, are not pursuing a consistent agenda and are engaging with countries involved in proliferation on their vested interests, thus creating a confused scenario regarding non-proliferation concerns in the world. Many middle powers have thus quietly decided that it is a question of when, and not if, they will go nuclear.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Whereas NPT checks horizontal proliferation, CTBT prevents vertical proliferation — increase in number and sophistication of a country’s nuclear weapons.

Bans all nuclear explosions in all environments, for military as well as civilian purposes.
Limited Test Ban Treaty was presented in 1963 and in 1996, CTBT was adopted.
World powers, especially the US, are not pursuing a consistent agenda and are engaging with countries involved in proliferation on their vested interests, thus creating a confused scenario regarding non-proliferation concerns in the world.
92.jpgOther Treaties
SALT I (1974) Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
ABM Treaty (1972) Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty
SALT II (1979)
INF Treaty (1987) Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty
START I (1991) Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
START II (1993)
START III (1997)
SORT (2003) Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty
Also called Moscow Treaty
New START (2010)

New START
The 10-year treaty between the US and Russia is a successor to START – the nuclear arms reduction treaty signed in 1991 and expired in 2009.

Aims of New START
Three main aims:
Cap the number of deployed, long-range nuclear warheads on each side at 1550 (down from 2200).
Reduce the number of deployed nuclear–capable submarines, long-range missiles and heavy bombers to a maximum of 700.
Establish a system in which each of the nuclear giants monitor other’s nuclear arsenal.

The treaty would not be a dramatic step in disarmament as there are different rules on counting warheads and the reduction may well amount to less than 30 per cent. Also the treaty does not mandate that the warheads be destroyed – they would be added to storage. But it is a good first step in disarmament cause which envisions moving on to a second more ambitious treaty.

US and non-proliferation
The US non-proliferation cause presents a confused picture as there are at least five divergent stances of the US on non-proliferation.

1. Deny Iran of right to go nuclear.
2. Silent over Israel which has an ambiguous nuclear doctrine and a non-signatory to NPT.
3. Transferring technology to India.
4. Concerns or skepticism regarding the security of Pakistan’s nukes.
5. More confused in case of North Korea.
At times pressurised
No restrictive policy adopted
Economically engaged

US non-proliferation cause has been delegitimised, particularly after Indo-US nuclear deal. Moreover, the vigour seen in Bill Clinton’s era is no more seen.

North Korea and nuclear proliferation
North Korea was a signatory to NPT but withdrew in 2003 – the only country to do that.
North Korea’s nuclear doctrine is too confused. North Korea uses proliferation as an instrument of leverage.

South Korea and the US are pressurising North Korea to restart negotiations with the club of six. North Korean main demands are:
An end to Korean war
Economic concessions

Iran and nuclear proliferation
Iran’s nuclear programme has been a cause of concern for the international community. Six major powers of the world – the US, China, Russia, France, Britain, and Germany — have been engaged in negotiations with Iran.

Geneva talks: The talks were significant in that these opened the door to direct contact between high-level officials of Iran and the US for the first time during the last three decades. Iran also agreed to soften its stance.

Concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear programme
Ahmadinejad has repeatedly spoken out aggressively against Israel.
Fears that Iran will try to make a bomb which will further destabilise Middle East.

The deal offered by IAEA and the club of six
The US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany have offered to take Iran’s Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) and process it abroad into a fuel for a civilian reactor. According to this deal:
Iran will ship 75 per cent of its LEU to Russia for further enrichment, which will be sent to France. After fabrication of fuel rods in France, they will be sent to Iran.

Objectives of the deal
To defuse the crisis
To reduce Iran’s LEU stock below the threshold needed for completion of bomb.

Iran backed off from the deal refusing to send 75 per cent of its LEU abroad in one go. Iran is ready to send small installments of LEU. Iran also ruled out any Turkish mediation for making the deal possible.

In the words of El Baradi:
“Lack of trust is the key problem. Iran needs ‘cast iron’ assurances.”

Iran needs to reconsider its rigid nuclear policy to avoid an isolation at the international front. Iran has hitherto depended on Russia and China to waterdown the impacts of US sanctions. But the persistent attitude of non-compliance may unite the big powers into adopting a harsher stance. Similarly, Western powers should learn to live with a nuclear Iran as the costs of denuclearising Iran would be enormous, better course would be to peacefully and economically engage Tehran.
NCA supervises the functions and administration of all Pakistan’s organisations involved in nuclear weapon research, development, and employment, as well as the military services that operate the strategic forces.
Pakistan and proliferation
Pakistan’s nuclear programme dates back to 1974. Pakistan is a non-signatory to NPT and successfully tested nuclear weapons in May 1998. Pakistan’s nuclear programme is haunted by the A.Q. Khan episode and there is a impression that Pakistan did not behave like a responsible state.

Concerns for security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal
Such concerns are based on:
Growing extremist threat in Pakistan.
Role of non-state actors: declining writ of the state.
Alleged connection of security agencies with extremists.

These concerns are not entirely unfounded but are largely exaggerated. Pakistan’s command and control system is modernised as well as installationised. Islamabad’s strategic command organisation has a three-tiered structure.

1. National Command Authorities (NCA)
NCA supervises the functions and administration of all Pakistan’s organisations involved in nuclear weapon research, development, and employment, as well as the military services that operate the strategic forces. NCA has 10 members: Prime Minister (chairman), ministers of foreign affairs, defence, interior and finance, chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (JCSC), services chiefs, and the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) director general.

2. Strategic Plans Division
SPD is headed by a director general from Army and acts as a secretariat for NCA. Its functions include: formulating nuclear policy, strategy and doctrine; developing the nuclear chain of command; and formulating operational plans.

3. Strategic Forces Command
The Army, Air Force, and Navy have their own Strategic Forces Command (SFC), but operational planning and control remains with the NCA. The SPD coordinates operational plans with the SFCs.

Islamabad employs a system which requires three people authenticate launch codes for nuclear weapons. Moreover, Pakistan stores its warheads unassembled with the fissile core separate from non-nuclear explosives, and these are stored separately from their delivery vehicles. So it can be safely concluded that Pakistan has a modern nuclear command and control system and the security of its nuclear weapons is adequate by any standard.

Indo–US nuclear deal
The deal is an agreement facilitating nuclear cooperation between the US and India. It provides the US assistance to India’s civilian nuclear energy programme, and expands US-India cooperation in energy and satellite technology. Under this agreement, India would:

Be eligible to buy the US dual – use of nuclear technology, including materials and equipment that could be used to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium – the material for nuclear bombs;
Also receive imported fuel for its nuclear reactors;
Allow IAEA inspectors access to its civilian nuclear reactors with India reserving the right to declare any of its nuclear sites as non-civilian.
Work towards negotiating a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) with the US banning the fissile material production for weapon purpose.
Prevent the spread of nuclear technology to states that do not possess them.
Get nuclear fuel from reactors built in India by US companies.
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has also lifted the ban on India.
The deal, thus, stands to be a unique and unprecedented one. It would fundamentally reverse non-proliferation efforts, encourage non-nuclear states to acquire nuclear weapons and would lead to a nuclear arms race in Asia.
Criticism and its impacts on Pakistan
The deal would inevitably affect the deterrence in South Asia and Pakistan has serious reservations over this deal. Main flaws in this deal are:
It does not cover India’s past production of fissile material.
India is not bound to limit its fissile material production.
India is not bound to restrict its number of nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the deal would hamper the IAEA’s efforts for non-proliferation cause.
The deal would delegitimise the US stance on non-proliferation.
It would encourage Iran, North Korea and other non-nuclear states to go nuclear.
It would lead to a nuclear race in South Asia as Pakistan would strive to balance the deterrence level.

The deal, thus, stands to be a unique and unprecedented one. It would fundamentally reverse non-proliferation efforts, encourage non-nuclear states to acquire nuclear weapons and would lead to a nuclear arms race in Asia.